As Maria mentioned in a recent post, March is Women’s History Month! This is a great opportunity to take time and think about all of the great women who have come before us as leaders. I’ve been thinking about which women I consider leaders, and what I admire about them. And “leader” can be such a broad term, taken in many ways. If you google women leaders, it seems like the overwhelming majority of results are about women who were or are politicians. I found this interesting because that’s not what I think of first. I think of people like Rosa Parks, Juliette Gordon Low, and Susan B. Anthony. This made me realize at we all have our own personal perception of what a leader is. And to me, a leader is someone who does not necessarily have any particular power, but goes out and tries to change something that he or she thinks is wrong in the world. Somebody who stands up against inequality and tries to achieve fairness within our society. It’s more about the motives and goals and what they are working toward. And yes, politicians are trying to change the world and make it better in whichever way they see fit, but it’s more of a holistic approach. They want to make everything better—the economy, the functionality of the government, taxes, laws, environment, etc. There’s not typically just one big issue that someone is trying to stomp out when they run for political office.
Personally, when I think of current leaders who inspire me, I think of people like Alison Malmon who founded Active Minds and Campus Calm’s own Maria Pascucci. Both of these women strive to help people to better themselves. They are both keenly aware of mental health and its impact on our success. Alison Malmon has started an organization that helps open the conversation about mental illness, and works to fight the stigma associated with it. It now has hundreds of chapters in colleges across the country, and so many people have been affected by its message. And Maria started Campus Calm with a vision of a world where women could believe “that we don’t need to be perfect in everything that we do because we’re ‘good enough’ at our cores.” And she has been working with such endurance to try and work toward that kind of world. These are the kinds of women who I aspire to, and these are the issues that are important to me.
But I’m sure there are plenty of people who would disagree with my views. Some people probably think of Hillary Clinton and Maggie Thatcher when asked to think of women leaders. And I agree that they are. That type of leader is just not what comes to mind first for me. So this begs the question, who do YOU think of as a leader? Which women are the quintessential leaders of history, in your eyes? And why? What qualities do these women have in common—is it in the way they operate, or what they are trying to fight for? Is it who they are leading?
Once you have thought this through, next I wonder what you do personally that makes you like these women who you consider leaders. If all of the women who came to your mind were charismatic and could win over a crowd, how can you orient yourself to succeed in that way too? If they all took a stand against something, how could you potentially do that?
I’m not saying that you have to have all of the qualities that past women leaders have had—of course you don’t! One great thing about leaders (and people of any sort) is that they are all unique from one another! So you can look to the women leaders of the past for inspiration, but don’t despair if you don’t have all of the same qualities—you’re your own unique leader.
LeadHer™ Intern, Campus Calm™
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